Sunday links

22nd May 2021

John Wyver writes: Another broadcast deadline is just three days away, this time for the Illuminations documentary for BBC Four, Coventry Cathedral: Building for a New Britain. You can expect lots more about this here once it is complete, but for the moment I am rather pre-occupied by it, and so this week’s links is perhaps a touch more modest than normal. Expect bumper editions in the coming weeks, but for now enjoy these articles and videos that have attracted my attention this week.

State Funeral observes a period of mourning for Stalin: Nick Pinkerton for Sight & Sound on a film (above, and now on that I’ve long been looking forward to – Sergei Loznitsa’s compilation from footage of Stalin’s funeral…

[Loznitsa’s] films offer a kind of understanding of the past, yes, but it’s precisely an understanding of what we can’t understand, even or especially through the testimony of the filmed image, for the ‘truth’ told by a camera is distorted by an infinity of variables, not least who is holding the camera, and what the person in front of it believes is expected of them. 

On body and soul – Sergei Loznitsa discusses State Funeral: … and there’s a good interview with the filmmaker at by Hugo Emmerzael.

A World is Turning: Luke McKernan has written a rather wonderful essay about the six-reel fragment below of A World is Turning (Towards the Coloured People), shot in 1948, and about film and performance, about archival research and cataloguing, about the Black community in postwar Britain, and about Adelaide Hall:

Toil and trouble: for Film Comment, Shonni Enelow is terrific on Shakespeare and Nomadland.

Indigenous cinema and the limits of auteurism: Girish Shimbu for Criterion’s The Current reflects productively on Indigenous film and media, and on much more related to how we approach all cinema.

This was the week that movie studios finally lost control of the industry: essential analysis for IndieWire by Anne Thompson and Dana Harris-Bridson.

Inside the Discovery-AT&T deal: cute emails, a big loan and now, a media giant: I loved this up-close reporting by a powerhouse New York Times team of John Koblin, Michael M. Grynbaum, Edmund Lee and Lauren Hirsch; the detail about the Steve McQueen photo, which is illustrated, is particularly cherishable.

How does it end? Story and the property form: lots to reflect on in this immensely rich essay about documentasry by Brett Story at World Record Journal.

The five degrees of Humphrey Burton: Ian Greaves at CST Online on the legendary television arts executive who has celebrated reaching the age of 90 by publishing his autobiography…

BFI At Home I Televising The Arts: Humphrey Burton At 90: … and who you can see here being interviewed splendidly by Melvyn Bragg:

I’ll take ‘White Supremacist Hand Gestures’ for $1,000: Ben Smith is contributing some great columns to The New York Times, as it witnessed by this bonkers but resonant tale.

Playwright David Storey’s posthumous memoir: ‘The more successful I became, the more ill I felt’: courtesy of the Guardian, a truly remarkable extract from the late writer’s forthcoming memoir, A Stinging Delight.

Three dramas explore the margins of the digital form: Jesse Green, also for The New York Times, is very good on three shows that explore ‘the boundaries of what makes theater theater’.

Special issue: Inequality and race in the histories of archaeology: a provocative and oh-so-necessary collection from the Bulletin of the History of Archaeology of pieces about…

… how inequality and race have become more prominent research themes within the histories of archaeology in the previous five-to-ten years. At the same time, the pieces show how research can—and should—be connected to attempts to promote social justice and an end to racial discrimination within archaeological practice, the archaeological profession, and the wider worlds with which the discipline interacts.

Pride and property – on the homes of Jane Austen: I very much enjoyed Phyllis Richardson at Literary Hub on ‘the manors, rectories, and cottages that influenced Austen’s domestic writing’.

Reading Renoir with The Dress Detective: such a good online class from the Courtauld with Dr Ingrid E. Mida:

How the ‘Roaring Twenties’ myth obscures the making of modern Britain: Matt Houlbrook for History Extra on the real importance of the 1920s.

‘A united nations of crime’: how Marbella became a magnet for gangsters: a fascinating Guardian Long Read by Nacho Carretero and Arturo Lezcano.

The king of little England [£ subscription]: breathtakingly good writing about Johnson by Fintan O’Toole for The New York Review of Books.

England’s dreaming: I should probably include in Sunday links every one of Chris Grey’s brilliant weekly post-Brexit blog posts; they are among the most urgent and informative political writings of our time – and this week’s is especially fine.

Starmer’s first year – the signal and the noise: Robert Saunders’ post is well worth your time.

Bob Dylan at 80 – in praise of a mighty and unbowed singer-songwriter: for the Guardian, Edward Docx offers birthday greetings…

The experience of listening to Dylan feels a close cousin to the experience of hearing the soliloquies of Shakespeare: the way Shakespeare manages to get Hamlet to say what only Hamlet needs to say and yet somehow to speak for all of us in a certain mood. Another day it’s Iago, of course. Or Rosalind. Shylock. Richard II. Portia or Puck. And each soliloquy open to as many different interpretations as there are actors to speak them.

Clinton Heylin wrote eight Bob Dylan books. Then he realized he needed to start all over: … and this is very good too, by Andy Greene for Rolling Stone.

Bob Dylan – Like A Rolling Stone (Live at Newport 1965):

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